Nicole and I got up early again today, just like our Railroad market day. Nicole booked a Travel Zoo food tour around central Bangkok for us. We met up at the Skytrain stop/ferry port nearest to our apartment. Our Thai guide led our group of 10 around Bangkok and we spent the morning in different restaurants trying traditional Thai foods as well as popular foods in Bangkok from different cultures such as China and India.
Our First Stop: Roast Duck in Chinatown
Our first stop was in a Chinese part of Bangkok at a little restaurant called Chareon Wieng Pochana. It was run by an old Chinese man who owned the restaurant for over 50 years. He’s too old to cook anymore but he still sits out front and greets customers as they come inside. We ate traditional roasted duck served on rice. The meal was served with peppers on the side, and I foolishly applied the peppers liberally to my dish: bad idea. Aside from the peppers being too spicy, the meal was awesome.
Our Second Stop: Curry Noodles at a Muslim Cafe
At our second stop, we visited a small muslim cafe and ate curry noodle soup. There were condiments on the table to season the soup as we wished. I believe this is the same soup Nicole and I had been enjoying for the past several days.
Our Third Stop: Catfish and Est Cola
After our second stop we took a boat across the Chao Phraya river to a small cafe called Yum Rod Sab at the end of a narrow alley. Inside of the cafe we ate Yum Pla Dook Foo, crispy catfish with a green mango salad and a refreshing Est Cola, Thailand’s own version of Coca Cola. It tasted like a cross between Pepsi and Coke.
Our Fourth Stop: Pan Lee Bakery
All of our stops so far had been lunch foods and more of the savory persuasion. So our next stop at the Pan Lee Bakery was a welcomed pit stop on our food tour. The cafe was like any coffee shop/bakery in the states. There was a corner for sitting and a chalkboard menu with various caffeinated drinks. On the right side of the cafe were a variety of cookies and pastries. Nicole and I each picked up a few bags to bring back to our coworkers for helping to cover our classes while we were away.
Our tour group sat at the cafe and ate delicious Thai-style Green Custard Buns, BBQ Pork Buns and Thai Iced Tea. I really liked the buns, the pork bun was like a slightly sweeter version of Korean Mandoo while the Green Custard Bun tasted more like a fruit danish. I couldn’t have any of the Thai Iced Tea since it was made with milk, but Nicole liked it.
[box type=”info”]This was also our only bathroom stop on the tour. Our guide explained that the polite euphemism for going to the bathroom was “shoot a rabbit” for boys and “pick some flowers” for girls, as in, “I’ll be right back, I’m going to shoot a rabbit.”[/box]
Our Last Stop: Thai Curry and Ice Cream
Our last stop of the tour was at a cafe called Kallaprapruek. We ate traditional Thai Curry served on Roti and Thai-style Coconut Ice-cream. This was our fanciest stop so far. The restaurant was very modern. There were business people enjoying fine foods in a classy establishment. It was the polar opposite of everywhere we’d been up until this point.
After this meal, our guide brought us back to the skytrain stop/ferry port near our apartment where we’d started. We said our goodbyes to the rest of the group and hopped on another ferry to visit the Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is centrally located in Bangkok, alongside the Chao Phraya river. The king and his royal government lived there from 1782 to 1925, after which absolute monarchy was abolished and the king moved to a different palace.
Nicole and I wandered the 2 million square feet of palace grounds and looked at the many different buildings and temples. A large part of the complex is the Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The complex is really interesting because there are buildings from almost every single era of Thai architecture.
It was nice to see a different style of temple from what we were accustomed to in Korea. These temples were far more ornate and almost every surface of them was covered in gold. They were a site to behold. The Korean temples are detailed in their own way, but made of wood and, I would say, simpler in design, perhaps less gaudy as well.
After the Grand Palace, Nicole and I walked down the street to Wat Pho, one of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok. Also home to a great massage school. However, Nicole and I didn’t get a massage there. One of the biggest attractions at Wat Pho is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, a massive Buddha reclining on its side. We were beat from viewing so many majestic temples so we headed over to the neighborhood we’d visited two nights before for fish and chips to have a different international meal.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had patatas bravas, or “brave potatoes”. They were one of my favorite foods at my hometown tapas restaurant, Ceviche. Nicole and I used to go on Tuesday for their tapas specials. In Bangkok, Nicole found a tapas restaurant for us to dine at. The two of us split a ton of delicious tapas and some wine before heading back to the apartment.
This was our fourth day in Thailand and a really enjoyable day at that. After a few days away from work I was feeling refreshed. Its easy to get caught up in the minutiae of your 9 to 5, or in my case 1 to 9:40. Getting a chance to step away from work for a few days and relax really changes everything.